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1990 Audi 90 quattro 20V

Update 5/18/18 – After failing to sell last year at nearly $8,000, this sweet and rare 1990 Audi 90 quattro 20V with some fantastic period-correct BBS RS wheels is back on eBay with an opening bid at only $4,000!

Just as they had with the development of the 10V Turbo for their top tier products, Audi’s work on the Group B, Sport and later RR 20V Quattro (along with the creation of the original S-series cars soon after) trickled down into the rest of the range, but only in a very limited fashion. The 7A 2.3 liter 20V motor was the beneficiary of that racing work, and it was at the time a pretty impressive unit. Out of 2.3 liters, Audi squeezed a very reliable 164 horsepower with a screaming 7,200 RPM redline. While it’s true this was down on peak power to racing motors like the M3’s S14, the adding of the second cam and a modern EFI engine management also yielded nearly 160 of torque.

So why does everyone claim that this car was under-powered?

Weight. The luxury-oriented B3 was most popular in Coupe form, where at 3,300 lbs in 1991 it was in need of a diet. It was 30 horsepower down on the BMW, and weighed 500 lbs more, with a more frontward weight bias. A performance car this did not make, and the result was that the expensive Audis leisurely gained speed. Despite the near 50% power increase over the outgoing Coupe GT, a stock B3 Coupe Quattro shared near identical 0-60 times and cost $10,000 more.

But if you were a clever buyer, you could get slightly better performance out of the 4-door variant of the naturally aspirated double overhead cam inline-5. That’s because concurrent with Coupe production, the motor and drivetrain was offered in the slightly lighter 90 quattro 20V:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi 90 quattro 20V on eBay

Year: 1990
Model: 90 quattro 20V
Engine: 2.3 liter inline-5
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 160,000 mi
Price: No Reserve Auction

If you’re looking to complete your Audi World Rally Championship collection, this car is a must! One of less than 1000 brought into the US in 1990/91. It is mint, and unchanged.

Once upon a time, when the German car companies had only just begun one-upping each other with continually increasing horsepower numbers – Its buffest competitors, the 158-hp Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.6 and the 168-hp BMW 325i, boasted in-line sixes that made mincemeat of most, until 1990, when the Audi 90 Quattro 20V showed up to challenge the big boys;
Ten extra valves pumped up the power to 164 hp, dropping the four-ringed contender right into the thick of the fight — and the 20V had something its rivals didn’t: four valves per cylinder and a tachometer that didn’t turn red until after it reached 7000 rpm.

The 20V engine was paired only with all-wheel drive, a sport suspension, and a five-speed manual transmission, confirming this as the driver’s car of the 80/90 lineup. The 2.3-liter five-cylinder demands that you keep the tachometer needle aimed high, and its heavy flywheel requires a big stomp of your right Piloti to blip revs between gears. There’s a stiff spot in the accelerator pedal’s travel that tells you when you’ve begun to open the secondary throttle butterfly — and that’s when the real music starts.

In Audi’s book of heritage and history, there’s room enough for only one hot 90 sedan-the one with five cylinders, twenty valves, and an ABS kill switch.


ENGINE: 2.3L DOHC I-5, 164 hp, 157 lb-ft
TRANSMISSION: 5-speed manual
DRIVE: 4-wheel
SUSPENSION, FRONT: Strut-type, coil springs
SUSPENSION, REAR: Strut-type, coil springs
BRAKES F/R: Vented discs/discs, ABS
WEIGHT: 3180 lb


NUMBER PRODUCED Likely fewer than 1000 for the U.S. market
ORIGINAL PRICE: $27,500 (1990)
TWO WHEEL OPTIONS – Includes both sets of BBS Wheels, One set original silver, One set after market gold and polished aluminium.

The 20V was a high-strung, all-wheel-drive, 135-mph autobahn stormer that derived its coolness from Audi’s rally heritage – making this a very rare car indeed.

$7,950.00 Feel free to make an offer – CASH, WIRE TRANSFER, NO CHECKS, Possible Meet at local bank.

Please send me your contact info so I know you are NOT a spam – I will call you. Please note, without contact info – reply will be ignored! NO INSURANCE Companies please – VIN will be supplied as transaction progresses, thanks.
Thanks for taking a look!

The 90 went without the larger dual-piston G60 Girling brakes up front and wore smaller 14″ wheels (15″ Speedlines, in a unique offset, were available at extra cost). Outside of smaller brakes up front, otherwise the drivetrain and suspension was unchanged between the two. With less floor strengthening necessary thanks to smaller portals and without the huge glass rear hatch, the 90 was the best part of 150 lbs. lighter than the 2-door. While Audi claimed the performance was equal, car magazine tests did not agree. Car and Driver clocked the 90 the best part of a second faster than the Coupe to 60 (7.9 v. 8.7) and recorded a higher top speed (137 v. 133), better cornering (.80 g v. .79 g) and a quicker 1/4 mile (16.0 v. 16.5). In fact, none of the magazines got close to Audi’s claim that the Coupe could do the 60 run in 8 seconds (most were closer to 9), while the sedan performed the task.

Of course, the lower offset wheels and sexier nature of the Coupe meant it was a better seller, even with a slightly higher price. This means that today, finding a very clean 90 quattro 20V is very, very hard. Craig spied this one in passing and forwarded to me, and it’s one of the nicest I’ve seen in at least a year, if not more. Indeed, the last one I looked at was similarly mint but from over a year ago! Compared to that car, this one probably has a color combination more are excited about. Condition is on par though miles are slightly higher. That car had the nice optional 15″ high-offset Speedline wheels unique to the sedan, but this car has much more valuable BBS RSs that look great. The pricing of the 1991 was a bit better, and ’91s have additional rear sway bars that not all ’90 90s had. Considering the BBSs (which, incidentally, I’d love to know which RS model they are; they look higher in offset than my RS159s) are worth probably $1,500 on their own, is this 90 quattro worth around $6,500? It’s a strong ask especially with no documented history, but the condition is great overall and we’re not likely to see a flood of these come out of the woodwork even if values increase. If you love the bullet-proof nature of the naturally aspirated inline-5 and don’t mind that this is a more relaxed sport sedan, it’s reasonable good deal (though not as stunning of a great deal as the ’91 from last year!)



  1. Christian
    Christian May 11, 2017

    Having owned a ’90 CQ, I can attest to how slow they were. I loved that car, but damn it was slow. My plan was to eventually drop a turbo engine in it, but that project never came to be. The Coupes were dead sexy, and the sedans were very sharp. But it was a bad time for Audi in the US, and AoA just didn’t care enough to invest in better equipped models to import (like the S2).

    Carter – I’m meeting up with a bunch of old-school Audi guys in Newport on 5/19 for beers, come join us! You probably know some of the guys already.

  2. Fstntq
    Fstntq May 11, 2017

    Great cars, I lusted after a red one but finally bought a 1991 coupe 20v many years from new. The Ebay lister is a bit disingenuous mentioning MB 190e and the BMW 325 as “it’s buffest competitors” clearly sidestepping the M3 as noted and the MB Cossie engined190 20V. Will be interesting to see if it pulls “emerging collectible” type of money.

  3. Cory
    Cory May 11, 2017

    Wow, minty! I had a coupe briefly. Slow af. Faster than my 4kcsq, but not nearly as endearing. Not only was it slow but it felt like it was working so hard to accomplish so little. Maybe the sedan is faster, but I doubt either is much fun to drive these days, and the coupe is way more fun to look at.

    No close up shots of the wheels? They’re the defining feature of the car. They look real, but I want some proof. As you say, they’re pricey if genuine. RS 137’s? I’d still sell them for some speedlines. Those primitive pirelli snow tires are good for a laugh.

    The coupe had lower offset wheels (more poke), but I think you know that:)

  4. Brad
    Brad May 11, 2017

    It’s totally worth it, just because it’s a very rare specimen (was and is) and it’s in nice shape.

  5. Carter
    Carter May 12, 2017

    @Cory – Doh. Typo on my part, and corrected. Thanks! RS137s are 5×114, 16×7, so probably not them. I doubt they’re RS159s, because they’re ET25 and I don’t think they’d work on the narrow fenders of the sedan. They’re definitely not 121/122s, as those are 8 and 9″, respectively. There’s an outside chance that they’re RS288 7 1/2 x 15 32.0 108.00 4 57.0 Audi 80,90,Q Typ 89. There’s also a chance that they’re either Ford or SAAB versions (mine are SAAB 9000 wheels, for example) Agreed they look genuine. Also funny, I looked at those Pirellis and laughed, too.

  6. Carter
    Carter May 12, 2017

    @Christian, if I can make it I will!

  7. Mcstiff
    Mcstiff May 12, 2017

    @FSTNTQ, Hard to justify that the 90 20v was a competitor simply because AoA didn’t bring the S2. Note, the ’91 M3’s MSRP was ~$10k more than the 9020v. The S2 would have competed with the M3 and 190E16v globally.

  8. Cory
    Cory May 12, 2017

    @Carter – Oh, ha! Definitely not 137’s then. They are sitting out quite a bit compared to the 14’s, could be 20mm more I suppose, and therefore the 159’s, but I like the sounds of the 288 better. Regardless it sounds like you have some sort of RS master list that you should share with the class.

  9. Carter
    Carter May 12, 2017

    If you look down that post, there was a late edition: RS101 – 4×108 – 15×7 ET37 – 57.1 Audi 80

    That would make more sense.

  10. Cory
    Cory May 13, 2017

    @ Carter – Yes! They are 101’s, confirmed by seller. Excellent wheel choice/fitment.

  11. KrautHammer
    KrautHammer May 18, 2018

    Owned a 90Q Sport 2.8 12v V6 5spd. Solid little car, surprising highway power, total dog around town. Would love to drop a AAN w/modern turbo in this car and build the perfect CO winter Ferrari.

    Shame AoA has an NLA policy on all potential contemporary classics. These cars are a dead end as a result…

  12. Jonathan
    Jonathan May 18, 2018

    I had a red version of this one too for a little while….

  13. Dave Ristic
    Dave Ristic May 22, 2018

    My dad had the sedan, I liked borrowing it from time to time but my ’86 VW Jetta Carat was much more lively and fun to drive. My dads Audi was great on long highway trips though.

    The Audi’s that followed these eclipsed them in every way.

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